The Detroit Tigers are in an unpleasant, but not unfamiliar, circumstance entering the middle game of their three-game series against the host Cleveland Indians on Tuesday.
The Tigers have lost eight of 11 games to the Indians this season, including a 13-5 thumping on Monday, when Cleveland racked up 19 hits.
“They put the ball in play pretty hard,” Detroit manager AJ Hinch said. “They delivered some big blows. We didn’t get into the game. We didn’t keep them off the scoreboard in many innings. Just a bad day on the mound.”
The Tigers’ starter on Tuesday, right-hander Jose Urena (2-8, 6.00 ERA), has been alarmingly inefficient since a short stint on the injured list due to a forearm cramp.
Urena has lost all four of his June starts, posting a 12.89 ERA along the way while walking 10 batters and striking out just seven. In his last outing on Thursday, Urena gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings to the visiting Houston Astros.
“The way he’s throwing is a concern,” Hinch said. “We’d like him to be better and work deeper into games. But he’s going to keep working. He hasn’t looked the same since his injury, but he says he’s healthy.”
Urena is 0-1 with a 1.74 ERA in two career outings against Cleveland, both coming this season and covering 10 1/3 innings. Urena will remain in the rotation at least until the All-Star break due to staff injuries, but beyond that is less certain.
“It’s not a secret. He’s a sinkerball pitcher,” Hinch said. “When he gets the ball on the ground, usually good things happen. “But he needs stay over the plate up and down and not be so east-west where he’s yanking balls off the plate and misfiring. He’s always going to work down in the zone. He’s that type of pitcher.”
Cleveland will counter with rookie right-hander J.C. Mejia, who will be making his ninth appearance and sixth consecutive start. Mejia (1-2, 4.94 ERA) notched his first quality start on Thursday, limiting host Minnesota to one run on four hits while striking out six in six innings.
The one run came in the first inning.
“What helped me (Thursday) is I wasn’t thinking too much,” Mejia said. “I was just executing all of my pitches. … In the first inning I was a little anxious, a lot of emotions, just trying to do my best. Later, I was able to just focus on executing my pitches and let the play dictate what was going to happen.”
Mejia was thrust into the rotation due to injuries to three starters. He pitched one inning of scoreless relief against Detroit last month.
The Indians’ offense allowed another of their rookie pitchers, Eli Morgan, to post his first career win on Monday. Jose Ramirez homered and had five RBIs. Austin Hedges also homered and drove in three runs.
The Indians had a rough outing the previous day, losing to Minnesota 8-2 and seeing outfielder Josh Naylor suffer season-ending leg injuries in a collision.
“The boys went out there with him in mind,” Hedges said. “That was pretty cool.”
–Field Level Media